The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Sadness through Symbols and Imagery 12th Grade


In Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, a range of interesting narrative techniques are used to explore the fundamental core of man, the relationship between man and nature and how our actions leave an irreversible mark on the universe. Published in 1798 in the collection titles Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge’s presentation of the Mariner’s physical and spiritual voyage went against the scientific tide of the Enlightenment Era before whereby reason was applied to all areas of society. The Mariner’s phantasmal tale causes the wedding guest to emerge a ‘sadder and wiser man’, with the reader left in a similar state.


Extensive use of natural imagery is of paramount significance in the poem. The personification of the natural surroundings immediately creates a sense of otherworldliness, placing the reader in a position of unfamiliarity and intrigue. The Ice ‘crack’d and growl’d and roar’d and howl’d, unsettling imagery associated with predatory animals. In effect the natural surrounding appears to respond to the actions of mankind, an idea perhaps unfamiliar with the reader but which supports Coleridge’s idea of the inseparability of man and the universe, or the physical and the metaphysical. This is an idea that modern day...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4485 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in